GERALDINE — Piedmont ended the Geraldine Bulldogs' Class 3A state playoff run with a resounding 33-7 victory at Coolidge-Isbell Field on Friday night.
Freshman quarterback Aaron Hayes’ four TDs propelled Piedmont (12-1) past Geraldine (8-5) and into the semifinals where they will face Region 6 rival Walter Wellborn (12-1).
For Geraldine, the defeat ends a historic season — the Bulldogs reached the third round for only the second time in program history (2000).
Geraldine fell behind 26-0 halftime and couldn’t bounce back.
Piedmont first scored when junior running back Elijah Johnson found the end zone from 10 yards out to take a 7-0 lead with 6:33 remaining in the first quarter. The PAT kick by Bryce Mohon was good — he finished 3-of-5 on PATs.
Later in the quarter, with 4:19 remaining, Hayes connected with senior receiver Silas Thompson for a 9-yard TD pass to increase the lead 14-0.
Inside the Piedmont 20-yard line, on Geraldine’s ensuing possession, senior quarterback D.J. Graham fumbled the football. Piedmont linebacker Malachi Jackson-Talmadge recovered it at the 19-yard line where the offense took over with 10:31 remaining in the second quarter.
With 4:56 left to play in the half, Hayes rumbled into the end zone for a 1-yard TD to stretch the lead to 20-0. Geraldine blocked the PAT kick.
Geraldine failed to convert a fourth down on its next possession, giving Piedmont the football with 1:24 remaining in the half at the Piedmont 23 yard-line, but they only needed 1:12 to drive down the field and score before heading to the locker room.
With 6 seconds on the clock, Hayes scored on a 6-yard TD run to take a 26-0 lead at halftime. The PAT was no good.
Out of halftime, Geraldine’s defense tried to spark the offense with a turnover.
After the Bulldogs’ first possession of the third quarter ended with a punt, Anthony Baldwin intercepted a pass from Piedmont’s Hayes at the Geraldine 20 yard-line four plays later, but the offense couldn’t turn the takeaway into points.
After multiple series of punts by both squads, Piedmont broke through to take a 33-0 lead with 9:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. Hayes connected with Maxwell Hanson for a 16-yard TD pass. Mohon’s PAT was good.
On Geraldine’s ensuing possession, Baldwin capped off a 10-play, 63-yard drive with an 11-yard TD run. With a successful PAT kick from Jose Garcia, the lead was trimmed to 33-7.
For Piedmont, Hayes had 194 yards and two TDs through the air, completing 14-of-19 passes, and 91 yards with two TDs on the ground, according to The Reporter’s unofficial statistics. Baldwin tallied 39 rushing yards and a TD with an interception on defense for Geraldine.